PUTRAJAYA: All North Korean diplomatic staff and their dependents in Malaysia left for home today following Pyongyang’s decision on Friday to sever ties with Kuala Lumpur.
The 33 people, including several children, came to the KL International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang at about 11.45 am.
They are scheduled to fly off on Shanghai Airlines Flight FM886 to Pudong in China at 4.10 pm and then transit in Beijing before continuing their journey to their home country.
At KLIA, they were escorted by police to the check-in counter for the departure procedure, which took about an hour.
The Charge d’Affaires of the North Korean Embassy, Kim Yu Song, and Counsellor Song Ki Chol were seen assisting the other embassy staff and their families to check in before all of them proceeded via the VIP lane.
Throughout the departure process, they were assisted by Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) staff. The police kept media personnel at a safe distance to accord them privacy.
The embassy staff and their dependents, all wearing face masks, kept to themselves and went about with the check-in procedure without giving any attention to the large group of reporters and camera crew that had gathered at the airport.
Following North Korea’s decision to break off diplomatic relations with Malaysia, Wisma Putra, the Malaysian foreign ministry, issued instructions for the embassy staff and their dependents to leave Kuala Lumpur within 48 hours.
Earlier today, at about 11 am, reporters gathered at the North Korean Embassy in Jalan Batai, Bukit Damansara, saw the staff and their dependents leaving the premises in a chartered bus, an embassy car and several private vehicles.
Charge d’Affaires Kim alighted from the embassy car and spoke to the reporters, expressing disappointment that they had to leave Malaysia.
Pyongyang announced on Friday that it was severing diplomatic relations with Malaysia after a Malaysian court earlier this month ruled that a North Korean businessman could be extradited to the United States to face money laundering charges.
Wisma Putra in a statement on the same day said it deeply regretted North Korea’s decision and that, in turn, Malaysia will close its Pyongyang embassy, the operations of which were suspended in 2017.
Malaysia and North Korea established ties way back in 1973. The relations saw notable achievements in the diplomatic and trade fronts up to 2017 when Kim Jong-nam, the half- brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was assassinated in Malaysia.